by Rei Kitano
With 54 entries and nearly 2,700 participants, the sixth Annual Canada Day Parade, celebrating Canada’s diversity and unique multiculturalism, drew one of the largest crowds ever. Vancouver Ondo, with close to 200 people in vibrant coloured yukatas and happis, represented Japan and Japanese culture, alongside the Vancouver Rakuichi group and their Mikoshi, in its fourth successful appearance this year.
Vancouver Ondo originated with Yayoi Hirano of the Yayoi Theatre Movement (www.yayoitheatremovement.ca) and has gathered a great deal of positive attention over the years. The movements that make up the ondo are an original creation, choreographed for the Canada Day parade in 2012 to express one of the many forms of Japanese culture. Recently there have been calls to appear and perform in year-round events, including the Sakura Days and CAM Annual Conference at Vancouver Convention Centre in 2013 and Cherry Jam in 2014.
Planning for the event began from late April when Hirano, supported by new and past staff, began the task of recruiting volunteers. Tasks were delegated based on interests and strengths and through weekly meetings and promotions, gathered more volunteers. Among the promotional activities included participating in the ‘Koisuru Fortune Cookie – Vancouver Version dance, spreading the word through various schools, restaurants and newspapers , performing at various venues and locations, including Lost and Found café, The Vancouver Art Gallery, Burrard Skytrain station, Vancouver Convention Centre, English Bay, Sunset Beach and UBC in downtown. All the while, volunteers continued to post and hand out flyers. The Facebook feed was continually updated with success stories, and one could feel the momentum from one person being passed on to another, one group to the next. While it was hoped that the group could gather 150 people, or at least 30 more than last year, efforts were rewarded as word spread and more and more people gathered to try out the Vancouver Ondo.
Every year that the Vancouver Ondo has been in the parade, it has been sunny for Canada Day and this year was no exception! Under partly cloudy skies, the entirety of the group gathered for one last rehearsal and then after 30 minutes it was all over. The words of one of the volunteers likely echo in the hearts of all volunteers and participants… “through this experience, I could talk with many people and gain confidence. I was really, really happy [for the] success [of] the parade. I was so glad to introduce Japanese culture…the promotion was not so easy, but because of our best, finally we could gather almost 200 dancers. Thank you very much to everyone I met. I was really happy to join Vancouver Ondo. I loved it.”
Thank you Vancouver Ondo for all of the great memories and experiences! We hope to see you next year!